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Calais migrants top agenda as Hollande meets British PM

© Stéphane De Sakutin, AFP | French President Francois Hollande welcomes British Prime Minister David Cameron upon his arrival at the Somme prefecture in Amiens on March 3, 2016

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-03

French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron meet in the northern French city of Amiens on Thursday for a summit at which the migrant crisis in the port city of Calais will be top of the agenda.

The talks will mark the 34th annual Franco-British summit and come as fears mount over a possible British exit from the European Union ahead of a June referendum on the issue.

Cameron warned last month that a Brexit could mean British border checks being removed from Calais and that "there would be nothing to stop thousands of people crossing the Channel overnight".

Britain pledged to contribute around €20 million in extra funding to boost security at the French port ahead of the meeting, said France's minister for European affairs.

Key issue: Security

Britain has already contributed more than €60 million and "there will be an extra €20 million ($15 million)," said Minister Harlem Désir in comments to Radio France Internationale, FRANCE 24's sister station. The money would be used to boost "security of the access zone to the tunnel ... and fighting trafficking networks", Désir said.

Thousands of migrants have remained camped out in Calais for months, hoping to cross the Channel into the UK. Demolition workers razed makeshift shelters at the so-called "Jungle" migrant camp on the outskirts of Calais for the third day running on Wednesday, under the close watch of dozens of police officers.

The camp, built on a former toxic waste dump, is a magnet for people hoping to reach Britain and many have refused to leave, although there has been no repeat of the violent clashes that erupted on Monday.

And more security

Elsewhere, the two European leaders also presided over a deal to invest €2 billion in a project to build a next-generation drone prototype as they seek to increase security and military ties.

“This programme ... will be based on a multi-role drone platform that could serve as a basis for future operational capacity after 2030,” the two countries said in a statement. “We plan to invest €2 billion in this programme with a technical assessment towards 2020."

France and Britain, both permanent veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council, are currently engaged in air strikes targeting the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-03-03

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